- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- List of Contributors
- Public Accountability
- Accountability as a Cultural Keyword
- Accountability and Democracy
- A Contingency Theory of Accountability
- Process Versus Outcome Accountability
- Accountability and Principal–Agent Theory
- Accountability and Ambiguity
- Experimental Analysis
- Quantitative Analysis
- Qualitative Analysis
- Visual Accountability
- Accountability and Constitutional Law
- Accountability in Public Administration
- Accountable Civil Servants
- Accountable Networks
- Accountability and Citizen Participation
- Accountability and Multi-Level Governance
- Accountable International Relations
- Accountable Public Services
- Accountability and New Public Management
- Accountability and the Nonprofit Sector
- Accountable Corporate Governance
- Accountable Global Governance Organizations
- Accounting and Auditing
- Performance Reporting
- Independent Regulators
- Audit Institutions
- Watchdog Journalism
- Accountability Deficits
- Accountability Overloads
- Accountability and Time
- Accounting for Crises
- Accountability and Blame–Avoidance
- Accountability and Trust
- Accountability, Legitimacy, and the Court of Public Opinion
- The Ontological Challenge
- The Need for a Systemic Approach
- The Future and Relevance of Accountability Studies
- Meaningful Accountability
Abstract and Keywords
Elections are the defining feature of representative democracy. Though they are very blunt instruments, elections do function to reward and punish sitting politicians. Their effectiveness varies in numerous ways: Policy and performance matter more to voters with proximity to Election Day, with the extent to which responsibilities are clear, and with the extent of electoral and party competition. Only competitive elections in high clarity countries yield good accountability, and then only in regard to items that voters focus on. The very fact of elections encourages politicians to pay attention to—and respond to—what the public wants even at times far removed from elections. This appears to work best where accountability is most evident. Of course, elected officials do not completely control the things that matter to voters. This is especially true for aspects of performance, such as the economy. But public opinion and government policy do matter on Election Day. And policymakers do represent public opinion in between elections. Electoral accountability, inefficient as it may be, is both a critical, and in many instances an effective, element of representative democratic governance.
Mark N. Franklin is Stein Rokkan Professor of Comparative Politics, European University Institute, Florence; Reitemeyer Professor Emeritus of International Politics, Trinity College Connecticut.
Stuart Soroka is Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Department of Political Science, McGill University.
Christopher Wlezien is Professor of Political Science and Faculty Affiliate in the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University, Philadelphia.
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